Is corruption in India really coming down?

Transparency International, the Berlin based organisation, has released its annual computation of corruption across the world. Finland and New Zealand came in equal first, the United Kingdom came in 12th, and the United States was 20th, just two places above Chile.

India has “improved” its position. It is ranked 72nd among the 180 nations computed by Transparency International, against 70th among 163 nations last year. Accordingly, India’s integrity index has marginally improved to 3.5 in 2007 from 3.3 a year ago on a scale of 10 points.

India’s shares its rank with China, Mexico, Morocco and Peru. Pakistan is way down at 138, but it is higher than Russia.

A strong correlation between corruption and poverty continues to be evident. Forty percent of those scoring below three, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant, are classified by the World Bank as low income countries.

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Is India really getting less corrupt as a nation as the survey suggests? Do you pay fewer bribes today to get done than you did last year? Has liberalisation, which ostensibly removed the licence-quota-permit raj, made lubricating hands less necessary? Or is corruption in our lives in less perceptible ways?